Fun topics from Sonoma’s Dysfunctional Family Winery

January 24, 2021

Written by Ken Wornick

Backed by 20+ vintages and many dozens of wines produced, Ken is a Sonoma-based wine consultant and founder of Sonocaia Estate Vineyeards, Dysfunctional Family Winery and Hydeout Sonoma.

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Customers support our on-line launch…

Quick shop link: Dysfunctional wine Discount code at check out: “Hydeout”

Sonoma International Film Festival captures a Methuselah

Memories of a motorcycle adventure to Patagonia, Argentina

Tasting panel at the winery

Reader’s ask: “What part of the wine business is actually fun?” The wine business can be a complicated industry to navigate. Many wineries employ a team of professionals to help plan their way through branding, pricing, packaging, target demographics, the logistics of inventory planning and distribution, etc. Building distribution channels and tracking sales metrics requires expertise and data. And the wine industry, like many, is now an environment where “big data” rules the day. Careful dissection of customer acquisition costs, customer purchasing habits, and distribution channel metrics now takes place in dark rooms pouring over carefully accumulated data. And frequently the wines need to be similar from one vintage to the next – in order to meet and keep meeting a customer’s expectations.
I am not fascinated with that part of the business. For me as a smaller operator, I much prefer focussing all of my attention on growing grapes and making wines. And rely somewhat on creativity and luck to obtain customers. We produce wines which are rarely similar from one vintage to the next, as the quirky labels testify, often reflecting the individual vineyard sites as they change from one season to the next, experimenting with various techniques and blends and barrels in the winery, and offering wines to our customers who enjoy getting away somewhat from the ‘expert scores’ and ‘safe’ cookie-cutter profiles. It takes a certain degree of confidence to sell wines like this. And it definitely takes a certain degree of risk for customers to try our wines. For those who have tried us out, we sure appreciate your courage!
DYS bottle - Fun topics from Sonoma's Dysfunctional Family Winery

There’s still time to order wine with a “blog subscriber discount” using the code word “Hydeout” – just enter the word “Hydeout” when you check out from the on-line shopping portal found here:

Pruning our ‘Estate Reserve’ Sagrantino vineyard in the winter of 2021. 


Sonoma vineyard client - Fun topics from Sonoma's Dysfunctional Family Winery

View of one of Hydeout Sonoma’s client vineyards, this spectacular property is just above the small town of Sonoma. Looking north, old head-pruned zin in the foreground, on the above-left is a lavender field and above that is a new Petite Sirah vineyard on a very steep side-slope, and in the background-right is a new Cabernet block planted just last year. These were already open fields, the drainage corridor has been carefully preserved (see center of image), and no trees were taken down.


UTV - Fun topics from Sonoma's Dysfunctional Family Winery

L-R, Cynthia, daughter Sophia, and me – on a chilly morning out in the vineyards on the reliable Polaris UTV reviewing recent pruning. We thank you all for the continued support of our new Dysfunctional brand launch.

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  1. Steven Ackerman

    Hello all. My name is Steven Ackerman. I currently live in Charleston, SC on a small horse farm. My wife Susan and I go back a long way with Meryl B, our very dear family friend. Of course we have heard about you all through Meryl. I know she is very much enjoying her extended stay with you. I don’t know that we have ever met yet but I do feel a connection. We were in the wine country about 3-4 years ago and will go back again. We’ll plan to stop by so we can become better acquainted. In the meantime, Meryl has an open invitation to come visit the farm and so do you all. While it may be a bit off course on the route to Patagonia, we’d love to have you visit. Regards to Meryl. No need to post this on your web page.

  2. Howard Dunaier

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the update and wine discount reminder. The photo of you, Sophia and Cynthia is incredible. Hopefully, some day soon we’ll be able to hang out and have a glass of wine together. Until then Stay Positive and Test Negative!

  3. Diana

    Loved your description of how and what your wine making philosophy is!
    Thanks for sharing your sublime sense of humor.
    A fan

  4. Rhonda Milauskas

    My son recently attended a wedding in Napa – he texted me a map listing your winery! My first response was I already drank it (haha) but then told him to get me a bottle! I suggest you have a make your own picture label so people like me can personalize! Love the name and cannot wait to taste your wine!

    • Ken Wornick

      Rhonda – Great story, thanks for sharing, you are officially part of our Dysfunctional Family (yes, it was that easy). We hope to have our winery open to the public next year (county permits are all done), but meanwhile we’ve got some great wines avail on our website – for shipping or pick up at the ranch. Try this link, and we look forward to hearing from you:


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